Montezuma's Revenge

With everyone so concerned about Arizona's new immigration law, I'm surprised no one's talked about how we actually got our border with Mexico. Before 1843, the southern part of Arizona and New Mexico was a part of Mexico. James Gadsden was instructed by the president to buy up a huge portion of Mexico, but our neighbor to the south balked. As a consolation prize Mexico did agree to sell us a small sliver, which we now call the Gadsden Purchase. Without that deal, Tucson would be in Mexico today. Of course Arizona wasn't a state back then--in the days before air conditioning, the population was small. When Arizona was considered for statehood, many proposed combining what is now Arizona with New Mexico to create a super-sized state called Montezuma. For a bigger map, go here.


  1. It might be useful to mention that in between 1843 and the Gadsden purchase was the Mexican-American War, which is how we got Montezuma and a lot of the rest of the west.

  2. Yes, before 1848 ALL of Arizona and New Mexico (and California, Nevada, Utah and part of Colorado) were part of Mexico. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo also forced Mexico to recognize the US annexation of Texas with the Rio Grande as the southern border, Texas at the time also including parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico.